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January 14, 1998

Hair Loss After Immunization—Reply

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1998;279(2):117-118. doi:10.1001/jama.279.2.113

In Reply.—Dr Sepkowitz primarily proposes that a large fraction of our case reports of postvaccinal hair loss might have been received after April 1994, when the index patient's experience was publicized in California. If so, he implies, the apparently large number of case reports would more likely reflect only "background" coincidental events, rather than a pathophysiologic linkage between vaccination and subsequent loss of hair.

In the first 6 weeks after publication of our article, we were interviewed by a half-dozen journalists, and secondary publicity appeared. Concomitant with and presumably on account of the fanfare, we have learned of an additional 6 patients with hair loss after vaccinations. This high reporting rate, averaging 1 new case per week, displays the publicity effect precisely as we related with respect to our index case and illustrates the problem that concerns Sepkowitz.